This month we're celebrating those who are "Making Black History Today" – educators who are changing lives and making their schools and communities a better place. Their impact will be felt for years to come.
This week we're profiling Elmwood Village Charter School educator Ebony Green. She is also the CEO of Business and Books, LLC, a Christian consulting company for business owners; a life blog is also featured on the website. She is a 2013 law school graduate and prior to expanding her legal career into education, she worked in Juvenile Law, served as a litigation specialist for various firms, and was a Christian Education Coordinator.
Green moved to Buffalo exactly two years ago, not knowing a soul, but feeling deeply this was exactly where she was supposed to be.
"I felt a sense of purpose in moving here. This was part of me cultivating my life’s mission. I had accomplished my goals in law, business, and now it was time to focus on education."
Having earned both a Bachelor's in English and Juris Doctor degrees, Green enrolled in Buffalo State's Master's of Education Program; it’s one of the nation’s best programs. She would attain her Master's, achieving her third degree magna cum laude in less than two years while working full-time. She then went on to become a teacher at Elmwood Village Charter School in Buffalo where she is a fifth grade teacher, as well as the school's liaison for educational policy.
Diversity in the classroom
"Having a Black teacher in the classroom is so important," says Green. "In education, we have a blatant disparity between the students taught and who is actually in front of classrooms, teaching the children. Studies indicate students of color who have teachers of color perform better academically and even yield positively into their adulthood."
She continued, "We do need more teachers of color, especially when there is a representative group of African American students in the school. I was fortunate growing up (in South Carolina) to see educators who look like me in the school setting. I still have a relationship with my first grade teacher Mrs. King, a Black woman, who greatly impacted my life by telling me I was a 'King's kid' and could be whatever I wanted. Unfortunately, it’s not like that everywhere but I try to be that visual for all students."
"Recently, I had a conversation with a little girl in first grade in our other school location. She was having a down moment, so I was encouraging her – it was just a regular conversation I would have with any student. The next day I ran into her mother and we were talking and she said her daughter talked all night about the conversation we had, and she kept repeating, 'mom, her skin is just like mine. I've never had a teacher who looked like me.' Her mom told me it stirred her to see someone who looked like her and it was encouraging. That was really moving for me."
On Charter Schools and Advocacy
Green tells us, "I love the work EVCS is doing. Their numbers speak well in terms of standardized testing. Outside of the academics, they advocate for students to be active in the community, a responsive classroom, and they handle the public respectfully."
Green personally says she is a huge advocate for students following their passion, and doesn’t want them to get boxed into the idea of one job or profession but rather explore their gifts and talents, which will produce the greatest results. "Statistics show the average American changes careers three times denoting the last as what they should have begun with. Many say lack of support and others" expectations were the reason they chose a particular path. My goal is to push passion to prevent future regret."
She encourages her students' greatness with her mantra, "Why be mediocre when you can be great?"
Green is also personally an advocate for charter schools, taking part in advocacy trainings, speaking at public events and rallies where charters are fighting for fair and equitable funding.
"Why are public charter schools not being treated as such? We do not receive facilities funding, and we receive less funds in general than other public schools. In turn, this affects the way we’re educating children. Funding and resources are vital to student learning."
Green (bottom/right), along with Western NY Advocacy Manager Duncan Kirkwood (back/center) with fellow Buffalo educator advocates at an educator advocacy training
On her personal life
"I was 6 years old when my grandmother was murdered. Twenty-five years later, her murder has never been solved. It took a huge toll on my family. However, the loss inspired my decision to attend law school, and eventually to do the work I am doing. People always ask, 'why go from law to education?' I know they are thinking about the money. The answer is simple; it's not a change but an expansion. Now, I am able to blend my legal background through my educational policy work while inspiring students daily that tragedy or skin color doesn't have to be a place of transgression. Through education, law and business, I impact my community through multiple facets and so can you."
Green continues to turn her tragedy into triumph by achieving her academic and professional dreams, and is now helping Buffalo school children to achieve success in and out of the classroom. She recently began a Junior Educational Advocacy group at her school that allows middle school students to explore policy, education and law in a tangible form.
On Black History
Green says she absolutely feels connected to Black History.
"I do feel a connection to Black history, especially as an African-American woman. That’s not a negative for me but a place of pride. In my family, community, and rich Black history, I have had so many great individuals pave the way and demonstrate what great success is in the Black community. I have learned through those who have made Black History, it isn’t about 'titles' but how you perform in life's 'tests' - meaning, never forget who you are, where you came from and always help your community. I try to emulate these characteristics while continually striving for greater in order to reach the apex of my life. I am doing Ebony the best way that I know how to do while helping as many people as I can along the way as the true Black History Makers did for me."
And that is what she is doing exactly. Green is Making Black History Today in the community, professionally and socially. Her work is all interwoven, she's helping to inspire children to learn the same lessons she did, and encourage them to reach for the greatness in their lives.
How do you see charter schools "Making Black History Today" in your communities? We invite you to submit a 250 - 500 word blog post on the topic, which we will then post right here on Extra Credit! All submissions should include the author's name, photo and a one-sentence bio. We will welcome submissions throughout the month of February, and they can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that your submission may be edited for length and clarity.